In a prior post, we noted the various reasons people initiate will contests. It is our experience that the lack of testamentary capacity is the primary reason for these lawsuits. Essentially, those who believe they were left out of a will or were left with much less than they expected or deserved are likely to claim that the testator (the person making the will) did not have the proper mental capacity to make informed decisions about distributing their estate.
This begs the question: What type of ailments could support the legal basis for lack of testamentary capacity? This post will highlight a few of them.
Vascular dementia – If the testator recently suffered a stroke, or was recovering from one, chances are that vascular dementia played a part in the lack of decision-making power. Vascular dementia occurs as a result of obstruction of blood to the brain, which could affect a person’s cognitive abilities.
Alzheimer’s disease – This is known as a degenerative brain disease that is the most common cause of dementia. Early onset dementia can occur in one’s 40’s and increases progressively as a person ages. Those who suffer from Alzheimer’s generally lose the mental capacity needed to create and maintain an estate plan.
Parkinson’s disease – This is known as a degeneration of the nerves in the brain that could movement and cognitive functions. Tremors are a common symptom, as well as amnesia and confusion during the evening hours. Parkinson’s can also affect a person’s ability to think and understand, both of which are required to properly exhibit testamentary intent.
If you have questions about mental abilities in the course of a will contest, an experienced attorney can advise you.